Portugal

Fingerboning Escalates: Buba Strikes Back To Draghi OpEd With Weidmann Interview

The first shot in the fingerboning wars (a key step up from mere jawboning) has barely been fired following Draghi's earlier OpEd in Zeit (posted here in its entirety), when the Bundesbank already had its response ready for print in the form of yet another interview with its head, Jens Weidmann, who says nothing new or unexpected, but merely emphasizes that no matter how loud the chatter, how empty the promises, or how hollow the bluffing, Germany's response continues to be, especially after today's higher than expected inflation across the country, 9, 9 and once again, 9. Perhaps the most notable part of the interview is Weidmann's comparison between the ECB and the Fed, and why one is allowed to monetize bonds, while the other shouldn't be: "The Fed is not bailing out a cash-strapped country. It's also not distributing risks among the taxpayers of individual countries. It's purchasing bonds issued by a central government with an excellent credit rating. It doesn't touch Californian bonds or bonds from other US states. That's completely different from what we have in Europe....When the central banks of the euro zone purchase the sovereign bonds of individual countries, these bonds end up on the Eurosystem's balance sheet. Ultimately the taxpayers of all other countries have to take responsibility for this. In democracies, it's the parliaments that should decide on such a far-reaching collectivization of risks, and not the central banks." Of course, when the wealth of the status quo is at risk, such trivialities as democracies are promptly brushed by the sideline...

Europe Closes Red As London's Credit Reality Returns

We noted yesterday that the mice of the European equities markets have tended to run when the credit cats are away; and sure enough, London comes back from a long-weekend and risk appetite disappears. European stocks gave back most of their gains from yesterday (and more in some cases) as Sovereign, corporate, and financial credit opened far less exuberantly and drifted wider for most of the day (with some slight US-open-driven strength into the close). Financials modestly outperformed as Sovereigns did not - with Spain now 48bps wider than last week's best levels, Italy 39bps wider, and seemingly forgotten (yet a total disaster) Portugal +52bps. Swiss 2Y rates have tumbled back lower in the last few days to -35bps. The standout was the OMX (Stockholm) which fell 2.3%, its biggest fall in 4 months, as Swedish banks stumbled.

Draghi To Miss Jackson Hole Forum; All Rumors Now To Focus On ECB September 6 Meeting

With the market realization slowly dawning that Bernanke will not announce anything of note at this year's Jackson Hole meeting, especially with the NFP number following the symposium expected to demonstrate another improvement in the economy, and ahead of the FOMC meeting in the second week of September, many hopes were resting on the shoulders of Draghi, whose ECB has now become a backup option when it comes to jawboning markets higher on empty promises. It is the same ECB which is also expected to announce something, anything on September 6, or else the market will really get angry after "believing" Draghi back in July as he said, and not delivering anything for two months straight. At this point however, the Jackson Hole meeting appears to be a complete dud because as was just reported, Mario Draghi, who was previously scheduled to speak on August 30, has decided to skip the meeting entirely. According to Bloomberg, citing an ECB official, Draghi won’t be attending Jackson Hole forum this year, and the reason given is "due to workload in coming days."

The Tempest Has Left The Teapot

We advise you to take note of the political opposition that is coalescing in Europe. The cry across the Continent, in various languages, is “Enough.” All of the grand designs speculated about for the ECB rest upon the use of the EFSF and/or the ESM as stated specifically by Mr. Draghi. Over the weekend the Bundesbank was absolutely critical of any such plans and they were supported by several statements made by Ms. Merkel. It is now dubious, in my view, whether Austria, the Netherlands, Finland and perhaps Germany would support not pledges but more actual money to be used for Greece, Portugal and Spain. The rub is on and the size of these potential programs will, without doubt, affect the funding nations in Europe along with the nations that need the capital. Muddling is no longer possible, delay has run out of road, postponement is no longer an option as recession grips the Continent and as each solvent nation seeks to defend itself.

Citi Sees Greek Exit As Soon As September

"Prolonged economic weakness will persist - especially in the peripheral countries - with further periods of intense financial market stress" is how Citi's Willem Buiter's economics team sees the future in Europe. While they continue to believe that the probability of a Greece exit from the Euro is around 90% in the next 12-18 months; but more critically it is increasingly likely in the next six months - conceivably as soon as September/October depending on the TROIKA  report. There is a crucial series of meetings and events in coming weeks and while they believe that the ECB's conditional bond-buying (and ESM/EFSF) may help avoid a 'Lehman moment' around the GRExit, they believe that there will still be considerably capital flight out of periphery assets should it occur. The reason being simply that even if funding costs were reduced, the current mix of fiscal austerity and supply-side reform will not return any periphery country to a sustainable fiscal path in coming years.

Analysts Respond To "Unsourced" Reports Of Open-Ended ECB Monetization

For whatever reason, yesterday's unsourced Spiegel report that the ECB is actually contemplating open-ended monetization with arbitrary yield targets on various European nations is the talk of the town, if only for a few more hours until, just like last year, the proposal is summarily dismissed, only to be reincarnated once Spanish yields pass north of 8% again. In the meantime, it has allowed those very well paid sell-side strategists to present their erudite opinions, which naturally do not matter in the grand (and not so grand) scheme of things as long as Germany sticks to the 9-9-9 plan.

"The Euro Crisis May Last 20 Years" - The European Headlines Are Back

In Europe, the "no news" vacation for the past month was great news. The news is back... As is Merkel.

  • "The Euro Crisis May Last 20 Years" - Welt
  • German finmin: no new aid programme for Greece - Reuters
  • Westerwelle Opposes Relaxing Greek Aid Terms: Tagesspiegel
  • Euro Countries Plan Strategies to Prevent Break-Up: Sueddeutsche (via Bloomberg)
  • Deutsche Bank Among Four Said to Be in U.S. Laundering Probe - Bloomberg
  • Bundesbank Vice-Head Opposes Schaeuble’s Banking Proposal: WiWo (via Bloomberg)
  • Westerwelle Opposes Relaxing Greek Aid Terms: Tagesspiegel
  • German Industry Group Head says No Place In Greece For Eurozone: WiWo  (via Bloomberg)
  • German Taxpayer Association Head Criticises ESM: Euro am Sonntag (via Bloomberg)
  • Spain says there must be no limit set on ECB bond buying - RTRS
  • France Favors Greece Rescue Package, Opposing Germany: Welt (via Bloomberg)

Guest Post: What To Do When Every Market Is Manipulated

What do the following have in common? LIBOR, Bernie Madoff, MF Global, Peregrine Financial, zero-percent interest rates, the Social Security and Medicare entitlement funds, many state and municipal pension funds, mark-to-model asset values, quote stuffing and high frequency trading (HFT), and debt-based money? The answer is that every single thing in that list is an example of market rigging, fraud, or both. How are we supposed to make decisions in today’s rigged and often fraudulent market environment? Where should you put your money if you don’t know where the risks lie? How does one control risk when control fraud runs rampant? Unfortunately, there are no perfect answers to these questions. Instead, the task is to recognize what sort of world we happen to live in today and adjust one’s actions to the realities as they happen to be. The purpose of this report is not to stir up resentment or anger -- although those are perfectly valid responses to the abuses we are forced to live with -- but to simply acknowledge the landscape as it is so that we can make informed decisions.

The Portuguese Run Out Of Gold To Sell

"Business has gone from great to terrible in a matter of months. The sad truth is that most of my clients have already sold all of their gold rings," is anecdotal evidence of a growing trend that Bloomberg reports in Portugal. The central bank holds more gold relative to the size of the country’s economy than any euro country, mostly accumulated during former dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s 36 years in power, based on data compiled by the World Gold Council. The law prevents proceeds from selling any gold reserves from going toward the government’s budget. With the Portuguese unemployment rate at a euro-era record of 15 percent in the second quarter, citizens are wondering who will help bail them out now that their job and gold are gone: "We have no more gold to save us from being kicked out this month," encapsulates a growing trend in debt crisis-stricken Europe as household gold supplies dry up after record prices and a deepening recession prompts a proliferation of places to exchange the metal for money.

The Hoarding Continues: China Has Imported More Gold In Six Months Than Portugal's Entire Gold Reserve

While the highly "sophisticated" traders that make up the gold market continue to buy or sell the precious metal based on whether the Fed will or will not do the NEW QE tomorrow (or just because, like Bruno Iskil, they have a massive balance sheet, and can create margin position out of thin air with impunity), China continues to do one thing. Buy. Because while earlier today we were wondering (rhetorically, of course) what China is doing with all that excess trade surplus if it is not recycling it back into Treasurys, now we once again find out that instead of purchasing US paper, Beijing continues to buy non-US gold, in the form of 68 tons in imports from Hong Kong in the month of June. The year to date total (6 months)? 383 tons. In other words, in half a year China, whose official total tally is still a massively underrepresented 1054 tons, has imported more gold than the official gold reserves of Portugal, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and so on, and whose YTD imports alone make it the 14th largest holder of gold in the world. Realistically, by now China, which hasn't provided an honest gold reserve holdings update to the IMF in years, most certainly has more gold than the IMF, and its 2814 tons, itself. Of course, the moment the PBOC does announce its official updated gold stash, a gold price in the mid-$1000 range will be a long gone memory.

Where Gas Prices Are Highest

Think the US has it bad with its "soaring" gas price, which is now back to $3.75 per gallon? Think again. Here, courtesy of Bloomberg, is a list of the countries whose gasoline cost puts what Americans pay at the pump to shame. In order of descending gas prices, below are the 20 places in the world where one does not want to "fill 'er up."